#4 Inspired by Permaculture

Tonight #4 and I went to a movie about Permaculture featuring the father of the term himself, Bill Mollison.  As we drove home afterward down the dark, snowy highway, I asked #4 (who isn’t particularly drawn to plants or gardening) if there had been anything at all in the movie that had interested him.  He said not really, although the movie did give him an idea.

He decided that next summer when we go back to the mountain to pick huckleberries, he would save 4 huckleberries and plant them in “a little tiny pot.”  Then he imagines they would grow into little huckleberry bushes that he could grow in his room in the window right by his bed where they would get plenty of light.  He would be able to harvest them to his heart’s delight and get all the huckleberries he could want.

He asked me whether whether huckleberry bushes die in the fall so that he would need to save 4 berries from his first crop in order to plant the next one.  I assured him that huckleberries live through the winter.  He commented that maybe people shouldn’t eat huckleberries since they poop in toilets, thus putting the huckeberry seeds out of commission so the plants can’t reproduce.  I said that might be a problem if it was mainly people that ate most of the huckleberries.  We agreed that if it was mostly bears and birds that ate huckleberries, the seeds would be better taken care of.

The other things that interested him in the movie was how an outhouse ultimately provided cooking gas for a kitchen, and a similar system was devised on a farm where pigs were raised.  He says he REALLY wants a straw bale house because he would have big, deep window sills in his room.  The windows would face east, in a holy manner, but would have foil lined shades that would roll down to block out the holy sun when he wanted to sleep in late.

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A Boy with no Daddy

#4 spent the night with his best friend last night.  As usual, he stayed up way too late, until 3 AM, and then was awakened at again for the new day at 8.  When I got him back he was so tired he looked sick, and felt that way too.

I read to him from “The Yearling,” a book he doesn’t like much because the author waxes too descriptive, and because he doesn’t like “farm” books, but I make him lie still just the same and listen.  It is beautiful writing and describes a childhood on the land that Americans don’t get to live anymore.  After I sent him to his bed I noticed the picture in the book of the family carrying their crippled child, Fodderwing’s, coffin to be buried.  I had forgotten that part of the story, having read it only once before years ago to #2.  I read anxiously ahead to the part about Fodderwing’s death to see if it would be too sad for #4.  It was pretty sad, but I still plan to read it to him.  (#4 really objects to big sadness in stories.)

Then I went to lie down with him while he fell asleep.  He said, (with his pretty, almond-shaped eye looking back towards me, with his soft, tired, little boy voice) “Mom, tomorrow, if I have time, I want to go to L.K. Machines and make one of those rubber band machine guns they show.”  Then he cuddled his back into my belly and slipped the back of his curled little hand into mine (yes, his hand is still small compared to mine, but not for much longer) and was quiet.

So I was left in the dark with my quiet child, thinking about other mothers through the ages who have lost theirs .  And about how love is the main thing in this world.  It causes us no end of joy and pain, but it is the main thing everywhere in Creation.  And as Penny Baxter says to his wife in “The Yearling,” …the day may come when you’ll know the human heart is allus the same.  Sorrer (sorrow) strikes the same all over….”

Then I wished that #4 (whose Dad died when he was four) would get a new Dad, maybe a man like Penny Baxter.  A man of the Earth, with wisdom and sensitivity and a warm, loving heart that hurts when he kills his family’s meat.  A man who just happens to have a heart full of love for #4 too, who wants to teach him, share his mind and heart with him, and conspire with him in that warm, humorous way men do to protect their male understandings from me, the female being who can never completely understand.

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Lego Land

cian and marijka play

#4 and M play

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Boyfriend is Gone

Well, last January was a critical time, and here it is 9 months later, still critical, and nothing much to show for all that passage of time.  My progress is so slow that it’s hard to notice if there is any.  A few things are worth mentioning. But I am too tired to mention any save one at the moment.

Boyfriend is gone.  Not gone from this earth, but gone to his mother’s.  Yes, he has been living at his mother’s for the past 6 weeks, I think.  I am losing track.  I told him it was time to go.  But for a relationship addict, it’s a two pronged fork, or whatever it is that does the jabbing.  He feels hurt, but I hurt my own feelings too.

Some good things have happened since he left.  Slowly, #4 and I are beginning to become closer and to enjoy our own special things to do and way of doing them.  It is just the beginning, and holds lots of promise.  More even than I thought.

#4 has seemed to be the one of my sons who is the most different from me.  Sometimes it has been hard to figure out what we can do together that is truly inspiring for both of us.  But now it seems like maybe all we have to do is get outside into nature and just hang out.  The spirit of discovery begins to strike.  The  honey of Indian Summer days begins to seep through our seems, and we are transformed, individually and together.  It is worth the effort, this time with my son.  It is worth growing for, and doing things that are challenging.

But my days are way too solitary, and I need to do something about that.  By the time #4 goes to bed, I seriously need some adult companionship and solace.  But there is just me, my house, (mine for who knows how much longer) and the night.  (Oh yes, and there is my dog too.)

I head for the computer, because of course it is the thread to the outside world where other people exist.  But now melatonin, calming amino acids, and sleepy herb tea bags (and the fact that it is almost 2 AM) are beginning to kick in so I head for the bed.

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To Be Real in an Unreal World

Last night after dinner #4 was inspired to dance to the music on the radio, PRI’s AfroPop. He has always said that he hates to dance, but now it is revealed that actually he loves to dance, and loves a maternal audience, but he just hates to dance publicly. He put my bathrobe sash around his head for a head band and danced, including leaps onto and off of the couch. It was an inspiring performance.

Boyfriend’s daughter, M, was here last night, her mom and step-dad being out of town for several days, and she would not dance. #4 had offered the adults, (boyfriend and me) “You guys sit on the chair and we’ll dance for you.” But M would not dance. Always in the past she would, but not now. She retreated instead into #4’s newest “Beet” manga, too self-conscious and apparently disinterested to dance. #4 wanted to turn off all the lights except the ones on the Christmas tree (yes, it is still up) and dance in his own brand of disco lighting. But because M was reading he could not turn off the lights. He was furious and heart broken. First of all, after five years of being able to count on M for the best play imaginable, she is now unavailable. She won’t play, she won’t dance, she won’t participate, all she wants to do is read HIS “Beet” mangas non-stop. He still anticipates her visits to our house, trained by years of experience to expect non-stop active and imaginative fun. But now, she’s not available.

She sees herself as more of a teen sort of creature. She has become self-conscious. She advertises the fact that she wears a bra to cover her breast buds. She lets us know that she is getting curves. She is relinquishing her personhood to become instead a sex object. Not that her personhood is really going away of course, but I remember that loss, the transition from person to sex object. It caused me no end of problems and still does. But at the time a girl thinks it is glamorous. Finally she gets to BE that princess she always wanted to be as a child, the one from the stories, the one who was desired by the prince. And all it really takes to be that princess is beauty and curves. You don’t really have to be a person. You can hide behind the beauty and curves and the world will love and desire you whether you are a person or not. The world will think it recognizes you. It will think you are that princess from its own stories, and it will desire you, even though it doesn’t know you. Who you are doesn’t matter. It’s just how you appear that opens the doors. And yet M doesn’t know this. The world tells her that it is sexy that matters, so she goes for the sexy. And relinquishes herself.

Meanwhile #4 feels betrayed. His best friend has abandoned him. Now he must dance alone. Usually he doesn’t mind, when she isn’t here anyway, but now he must let go of her, his best friend, even when she is around. A lot of it is just natural development after all. There yawns a new gulf between an eleven year old girl and a ten year old boy. Still, I feel that she is beginning to be tainted by the insidious messages of our society. He is still a little boy living in a real environment of nourishing influences. Not for long, but for now. He is still innocent, and I pray he can remain real in an unreal world.

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At the Peak of Middle Age

It is a new year. Snow is falling again, outside my window. I am at the peak of middle age, and my youngest son, the only one still at home, number four, is ten and a half years old. This is a critical moment in my life, a time when everything as I’ve known it is about to change. I’ve hung on for a long time to what I’ve known, but now I have to let go and prepare for change. I guess this is a true mid-life crisis. Up until now I’ve been young with the feelings and attitudes that young people have. I’m still kind of young, but not for much longer. How do I judge this? Guys are still attracted to me, even ones much younger than me. I guess that’s how I judge it. Instead of, “Whose grandma are you?” many of them still spark when they see me. Isn’t that how we judge these things in our society? But someday in the not so distant future, I think that spark will not be so frequent.

Part of the change is the task of letting go of the reproductive part of my life. (which in our society means letting go of life itself, because after all, what good are you if you are no longer sexually attractive, especially if you are a woman?) I strive to learn that I will be just as valuable, and hopefully more so, when those men no longer spark at seeing me. I must let go of my last child and know that there will be no more babies in this lifetime. These things are only part of the metamorphosis I am beginning. But they are signature landmarks on the path I travel.

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A Propane Tank One Third Full

Well here I sit at the peak of middle age. It is a January morning and there is a frost rimed world beyond my windows. There is thick, patterned ice on the inside of the many windows in my house which are not double paned. It has become a glorious winter, like a winter should be, full of ice and snow. I rejoice in it. I am in the mood for winter this year. I hope the propane holds out until the end of March at least, but at this point I am doubtful.

We wouldn’t even have propane if it weren’t for the propane delivery man’s fortuitous mistake. He came two weeks ago, on one of my at home Thursdays, and put in $250 worth of propane, filling my tank one third of the way up. Boyfriend had called the day before to ask them to put $200 worth of propane on my credit card as the propane company must be paid in advance. They told him that the minimum amount would have to be $250 before they would deliver any propane. He didn’t agree to that because it was my charge card (the one with the 27% interest rate) and he hadn’t cleared that amount with me. So we weren’t to get any propane that delivery day, except that the delivery man apparently made a mistake. He gave us propane. Now I am hoping I can pay it off over time, although even that will be hard. I have been grateful to that delivery man for giving us unexpected warmth. I feel warm, colorful valentines of gratitude puffing through the wintry air from my heart to his. I hope it is warming him in some way too.

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Bowling Ball Head

Too tired to write, but tired in a good way. Had a pleasantly mundane day at work. Walked Bo for an hour in darkness and snow. Snow falling lightly, lying heavily on the waiting arms of giant sleeping conifers. Was almost too tired to walk, what with my chronically short sleeping hours. Came home to Boyfriend’s wonderful, improvised Thai cuisine prepared with the few bits of food left in this broke household. Warm, deep, food- vegetables and cut up salmon burgers imbued with spicy tropical warmth served with rice noodles and peanut sauce. And here I said I was too tired to write! But seriously, my head feels like a bowling ball trying to hold itself up on a toothpick.

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